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when the little voice got loud.


when the little voice got loud.

Liz Hardaker

Stop ticking boxes and start being the man in the hut

1st June 2013… a typical Saturday after another soul destroying week at work.  I was reading The Guardian, drinking coffee and hanging out with my cat Tinks McGee, in all likelihood slightly hungover (me, not Tinks), in my garden in Leeds… 

My little piece of Leeds.

Back then, this was pretty much how I spent every Saturday morning and following the weekly ritual, after flicking through the Weekend Magazine (predictable I know), I reached for Travel.  The theme that week was something along the lines of ‘travelling, but not travelling’ … staying in one place for a long time, that sort of thing.

Lazy Saturdays with Tinks McGee

Anyway I started reading an article about some bloke who decided to take time out of his life and spend 6 months in a wooden hut in Siberia – sounds tropical I know!

Weirdly though, something in his words clicked.

I’m sure more people today will want to do what I did. I think an increasing number will need, at some time, to cut themselves off and escape modern life, then come back later to a more simple life.


Here’s the thing… I was 30 years old and had pretty much ticked off all those boxes a lot of us have grown up believing in …

  • Amazing friends. Tick
  • Good job. Tick
  • Bought a house. Tick.
  • New car. Tick.
  • 2 holidays a year. Tick
  • Pension. Tick.

Ok, I was still looking for the man of my dreams, but other than that winning right?!

My little urban family of lovely friends.

But … the big but … and I felt like a spoiled bitch for even thinking it for so so long… I was totally bloody miserable. The last 2 years had dealt me a breakup, a burn out and a broken leg … I was working in a job I didn’t like, to pay for a house I didn’t really like, which was full of things I thought I was meant to have, but didn’t really want. I basically felt like best-supporting actress in my own life … have you ever felt like that??

And in that moment I knew it had to change. Suddenly 30 more years of work, eat, sleep, repeat, was no longer a possibility … that little niggling voice that had been there, maybe forever, was now screaming at me demanding to be heard. In that moment I wasn’t scared of change, I was terrified there wouldn’t be any!

But surely I couldn’t… could I?

I mean we’ve all read all those blogs and seen those dreamy hipster Instagram accounts of couples who quit 9-5 and live in a campervan travelling the world for about 50p a year, but that’s not real life is it … especially not when you’re scared of everything and you work for Leeds City Council???

Home sweet home ... ???

The voice was still shouting though … in fact it wouldn’t bloody shut up!

I mean don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really want to go to Russia and spend half a year in a freezing cold cabin, but I most definitely did not want to go to work on Monday or in fact ever again.

I started dreaming about all the amazing places I could go, but trekking off to far-flung Bali or Thailand, whilst exciting, seemed a little bit like too much like hard work… there was something about the idea of ‘travelling, but not travelling’ that really clicked …  I wanted to escape, but maybe even more so, I wanted to rest.

Then… there it was in the lovely thing that is the Guardian Travel section just a few pages further on... a little section on ‘Rent A Place in France’ – a website offering long term rentals in character properties across the country…

when the little voice got loud.
(Spoiler alert!)

Hang on a second … France you ask??! I could literally stick a pin in an atlas & jet off anywhere and I choose the country separated from the UK by 21 miles of murky water!

But that was kind of the point … France was far away, but close enough to feel safe… memories of countless family camping trips, ham & cheese baguettes by side of the road and endless summers in shorts & t-shirts as a kid. And nearly as importantly I probably still had a passable French A-level… c’est vrai!

Happy memories and big hair

Almost without thinking … I HAD A PLAN.

And the week after Leeds City Council had my resignation letter.

Now it’s almost 4 years and I haven’t looked back.

And here’s the most important thing – if I can do it, so can you!

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